A Year of Beautiful Spaces: Winter in Paris

by gigigriffis

If you’ve been following along for a while, you already know that, in an effort to live in beautiful spaces this year, Luna and I started our 2013 adventures in several cozy Italian apartments. And then we took the overnight train from Florence to Paris, where we spent the better part of six weeks living in a tiny, bright, top-floor studio in creative, charming Montmartre.

It was the perfect place to cozy up with Luna and work on my website, wrap up client projects, and eat massive quantities of pastries. It was also the perfect home base from which to explore Montmartre and spend many mornings or evenings enjoying tea, pain perdu, dinner, movies about Paris, or girls nights in with my lovely expat friends.

I loved that it was located on the 6th floor (read: 7th, as the French consider the ground floor and first floor to be two different things), so even though I was a bit of a pastry-eating hermit, I didn’t gain tons of weight and managed to stay strong just by taking the dog out and running to the grocery store. I know this isn’t a perk for everyone, but I’m a big fan of walk-up apartment buildings in big cities. And I really, really love being on a top floor with views out over the rooftops (which, in the case of Paris, means chimneys).

I was also lucky to have a really comfortable pull-out bed (normally pull outs are decidedly uncomfortable, but this one was really cushy and soft) and a shower with fantastic water pressure (yet another thing that doesn’t always happen when you’re traveling).

But, really, the best part of renting this little space was getting to know just a little about my landlord—a smart, self-made woman who is truly living her dream life, raising her adopted daughter, meeting with investors about her interesting business ideas, and perfectly balancing a full life in the City of Light. I’m always inspired by people who are living their lives on their own terms, and so meeting her and knowing that my rent was helping support her and her daughter was most definitely a highlight of my Parisian adventures.

Basilica Montmartre

Of course, every apartment has its downsides as well. If you decide to rent here, be aware that you’ll be sharing a toilet in the hall and, as with all shared bathroom situations, cleanliness varies. This isn’t unusual in a city like Paris, but I know it’ll be a deal breaker for some (and something others of us can tolerate, though we don’t love it).

The other thing to keep in mind is that the shower is in the room, which means 1) when you shower, you’ll want to open the window to air out the space, otherwise the whole room gets really steamy and a tad mildewy pretty quickly and 2) the shower is not really private, so if you are traveling with a friend, be ready to bare everything.

Finally, if you are traveling and working (like me), you should be aware that the internet is often slow or intermittent in the evenings. For email and browsing the web, it’s fine. But if you need to make a call through Skype or Google Voice, you may want to find a coffee shop or plan your call before or after your time in Paris.

I should also mention that the walls are paper-thin, so you can hear everything, right down to the neighbor sneezing. The good news is that the neighbors are wonderfully quiet and respectful during morning and evening hours, so this was never a real problem. And the few times I did hear any real noise? It was mostly gorgeous symphony music coming from downstairs—the perfect backdrop to a Paris weekend.

Mmm, cozy.

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Brianna March 13, 2013 - 2:23 pm

Thanks for giving us a peek into your fabulous and yet so very normal traveling life!

gigigriffis March 13, 2013 - 4:27 pm

You’re welcome. :)

Andrew March 16, 2013 - 4:09 am

Neat. I definitely like top-floor window-over-the-city places, but 7 flights is a bit much. Reminds me of living on top of the dorm during college. Those views are pretty amazing in the rain though.

The shared bathroom and in-room shower do sound pretty uncomfortable, but really if you can deal with it, great. :)

Looks like a great time for you. Hope you make it to UK.

gigigriffis March 16, 2013 - 5:51 am

Thanks. Fingers crossed.

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